Gary Johnson’s campaign is visiting unfriendly territory for a libertarian — Washington, D.C.
“If elected I’d pardon Edward Snowden,” Governor Gary Johnson told an audience of two hundred at a breakfast at the Washington Post. “That is, as long as his release of information — including to your paper — was shown not to have harmed anyone,” the former two term New Mexico governor told “Daily 202” columnist James Hohman.
Johnson took questions from Hohman and from social media, though not from the audience at the hour long live streamed event. “However, I wouldn’t abolish the National Security Agency, but I would re-direct its satellites away from us, American citizens,” Johnson told the audience, while listing the government agencies, including the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, or Homeland Security, that he would abolish, in some cases returning their functions to the FBI or other agencies.
Johnson criticized Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, calling Trump “such a nasty man,” and saying neither had addressed the costs of the drug war or the need for entitlement reform. Asked about Evan McMullen, an independent candidate who is only on 11 state ballots, but is threatening to win his home state of Utah, beating Clinton, Trump, and Johnson, Governor Johnson said “more power to him.”
If not elected, Johnson, a triathlete who has climbed most of the world’s great mountains, said his plans include skiing 120 days in 2017 and leading a biking group down the continental divide bike trail from Banff, Canada to New Mexico.
“I won’t be running again, this is my swan song,” Johnson, 63, told Hohman. “But I will probably still be involved in the Libertarian Party, which is growing and becoming a force to be reckoned with.” Johnson also answered questions about places were his campaign themes had not matched up with the Libertarian Party’s platform.
“I’m growing to like the Libertarian Party more and more,” said one writer for the libertarian magazine Reason in the audience, opining that it has become more serious than in previous elections.
“Gary is getting better at interviews,” said Johnson supporter Marta Howard, a music teacher from Vienna, Virginia. One executive from the libertarian CATO Institute in the audience joked that the whole election was “a march into the abyss.”
“I think Gary blew away a great chance because he didn’t care enough to communicate his candidacy better. Today he was better than most times I’ve seen him speak,” according to a former Ron Paul operative who was in attendance.
Outside, mainly millennial age Johnson supporters waved yard signs as the candidate left for an interview at ABC. Jacqueline Mason, an MBA student and bookkeeper from central Virginia collected names of volunteers for a major campaign push this Saturday, details as yet unannounced.
Supporters planned sign-waving events throughout Washington, D.C. at each stop.